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Post date: July 5 2005

Leading Package Delivery Company Agrees To Stop Shipping Cigarettes To Individual Consumers

Attorney General Spitzer announced today that DHL – one of the world’s largest package delivery companies – has agreed to cease all deliveries of cigarettes to individual consumers throughout the United States.

The agreement with DHL marks the latest step in an ongoing effort by state and federal law enforcement officials to halt the illegal sale of cigarettes over the Internet.

Spitzer praised DHL for working in collaboration with his office to address the matter.

"By taking proactive steps to prevent delivery of cigarettes to individuals nationwide, DHL has made clear that it does not want to be affiliated with the illegal cigarette traffickers," Spitzer said. "We hope other shippers will follow DHL’s lead and refuse to do business with Internet and mail order cigarette retailers who routinely flout the law."

Jon Olin, General Counsel at DHL, said: "Wherever DHL does business in the United States or around the world, we look to work in partnership with government to ensure the best interests of our customers and the community at large are served. By taking a proactive approach, DHL is pleased to be the leader in the prevention of illegal cigarette sales in the United States."

The operations of virtually all Internet and mail order cigarette retailers violate federal, state and local laws, including tax laws, age verification laws, delivery restrictions, and reporting requirements, as well as federal wire fraud and mail fraud statutes. Since 2004, a coalition of law enforcement officials has been working to stop these illegal sales. This has included state and federal criminal indictments of cigarette sellers, seizures of contraband cigarettes, and efforts to strengthen cigarette trafficking prohibitions.

In addition, law enforcement officials have reached out to legitimate businesses – including tobacco manufacturers, credit card companies and package delivery companies – whose services are used by the cigarette traffickers to conduct their illegal operations.

In March, state attorneys general and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced a landmark agreement in which all major credit card companies agreed to take steps to stop the use of their credit cards for these illegal sales.

DHL is the first major package delivery service to join with law enforcement in this effort. The agreement does not prohibit DHL from making lawful shipments of cigarettes to licensed tobacco businesses and other authorized recipients. Discussions with other major parcel delivery companies are ongoing.

Spitzer has also called upon the U.S. Postal Service to halt illegal shipments of cigarettes. He noted that while the Postal Service’s enforcement division has been a strong partner in the effort, the Postal Service’s delivery operations, inexplicably, have refused to take appropriate action. Spitzer has urged Congress to adopt legislation banning the direct shipment of cigarettes to consumers.

The discussions with DHL were handled by Assistant Attorney General Vincent Esposito, under the supervision of Health Care Bureau Chief Joseph Baker and Deputy Bureau Chief Sandra Grannum.

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